SAN JOSE, Calif. - San Jose police on Monday said they arrested a "sextortionist," who took a 17-year-old's money and threatened to post sexually explicit photos, which in turn, led to his suicide, featured on the Dr. Phil show.
Police said they arrested Jonathan Kassi, 25, on Thursday in the Los Angeles-area city of Van Nuys. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Monday on two felony charges of extortion and one misdemeanor count of attempted disorderly conduct by posting a photograph or recording without consent.
It was not immediately clear if Kassi had an attorney to speak on his behalf.
The charges stem from an investigation launched on Feb. 26, when the 17-year-old took his own life in San Jose.
Police didn't identify the teen by name.
But the coroner identified him as Ryan Last.
His mother, Pauline, appeared on the Dr. Phil show, earlier this year, saying that Ryan died by suicide eight hours after he was manipulated into sending a compromising photograph of himself to an online sextortionist.
"They pretended to be a girl," she said on the show. "They sent a picture first to him and said, ‘Now that you have one of us – send us one in return. Within minutes of them getting the picture, they demanded $5,000 from him."
Pauline says that although Ryan didn’t have $5,000 to send to the blackmailers, he did send them $150, and then was pressured to send more.
Police said that Kassai used the names "emillysmith" and "kassijonathan" on various social media applications to manipulate children in what they described as a "West African financial scam."
According to the Mercury News, Ryan thought he was speaking with a young woman his own age, and the two began exchanging sexual photos.
The "sextortionist" told Ryan to pay him $5,000 or else they would reveal his photo publicly.
It is not fully clear if Kassi was the person who was communicating with Ryan or oversaw the broader "sextortion" scheme.